What a stunning weekend weather wise. And what a perfect weekend therefore to squeeze every drop out of it for fun and recreation. Things didn't get off to a great start at work on the Friday afternoon, when the message went round at 3.30pm that there had been a couple of drop-outs and we didn't have enough players for staff football. So we didn't play football and just went straight to the pub. But thereafter, things just got better and better!
The evening of Friday 16th May 2014 saw us welcoming top DL activator Martin DF3MC back to SOTA's premier curry house, the Weston Balti Raj in Macclesfield. Martin had been activating from the summit of Helvellyn G/LD-003 only a few hours earlier, and it was great to spend another evening with him over a typically fine meal. Joining the occasion were Sean M0GIA, Jimmy M0HGY, Liam and Marianne.
The morning of Saturday 17th May 2014 brought an early start for Liam and I. We had a lot to do! First was a drive down to Tunstall where my car was booked in a garage for some necessary work on the brakes and a wheel bearing. While the was being undertaken, the walking for the weekend started - 3 miles or so through this constituent town of Stoke-on-Trent, taking in a cooked breakfast, a haircut and beard trim, a swim in the local pool and a pint with a mate (former work colleague) in the pub. The car was ready by early afternoon, so we hit the M6 and went to Blackpool. First we spent a couple of hours with a piano player, Andy Mudd, I had previously worked with 20 years or so ago. An enjoyable couple of hours were spent at Andy's recording studio "The Music Factory", before we hit the promenade around South Shore.
The sun was beating down, and the beach and South Pier were jam packed. A couple of hours of arcades, hot roast gammon rolls, Arabian Derby and the occasional wander into a pub to check on the latest FA Cup Final score ensued. And then, at last, finally, it was Destination SOTA! We returned the opposite way down the M55 and then up the M6 past our accommodation for the night - the Travelodge at Burton-in-Kendal services. We then drove along the A590 South Lakes road to Ulverston, and then up to Kirkby Moor G/LD-049. This represented a trivially easy summit to squeeze in on the Friday evening, and we used the tarmac by-way (on which motor vehicle access is permitted) to get high onto the hill. I didn't fancy this quite so much when the tarmac gave way to gravel, so parked up, and we walked the remainder of the tracks through the gate and up to the large summit cairn.
Of course, the gamble of activating after 8.30pm BST on 12m is that propagation might be absent. And so it appeared, as I called and called and called on 12m CW, but without any joy. After twenty silent minutes, I grabbed the VX7R handie and called on 145.500MHz FM. It initially seemed that 2m was faring no better, but eventually I got a response from Dave G1CCL over the bay in Morecambe. I persuaded Dave to QSY onto 24.940MHz SSB for that all-important Challenge multiplier, and managed the contact with him. I then made two easy contacts with OM & XYL team Tony M3NHA and Sara M6NHA, followed by a nice surprise with a 59 signal coming in from Norman 5B4AIF in Cyprus.
Liam and I then hit the road back across to the M6, and the slight annoyance of having to drive southbound to J35, then turn around and return northbound to Burton-in-Kendal services. A spot of supper from the Burger King there was taken to our cheap motel room and we had a decent night's sleep. Gummer's How G/LD-050 would be the first objective in the morning.